Small Town Boy

3 February 2015

Exchanging words with Raphael at Milk Management with his down to earth, calming voice. Until we touch on the subject of travel and his voice become more captivating, taken with the idea of expanding his horizons. Coming from a small town, the word of fashion seems like one of the most appealing of luxuries. Modelling has immediately broadened his opportunities. As soon as he stepped on to the scene Armani Exchange swooped in to claim his very first shoot. It is evident that from the first plunge into the industry his peculiar looks has brought him good things.

Raphael lets us in on his obsession with football and how news truly get around quickly in a small place. Word will be getting around, being a model does not equal arrogance. He reminds us to do our homework and come prepared.

He arrives newly shaven, we feel just for us. But probably not. We present to you Raphael, our small town boy.

Please introduce yourself.
I am Raphael and I’m 18 years old. I am from Germany, from a very small village. I like playing football a lot. I have played since I was 6 years old, so pretty much all my life.

Did you ever play professionally?
I was about to, but my mom said I should go to trading school.

Instant analogue by Cecilie Harris. Special thanks to IMPOSSIBLE.

And here you are modelling!
Yeah! But I’ve finished school, maybe one day I’ll play professionally.

Tell me how you ended up in this crazy world of modelling.
Coincidence. I was walking with my buddies, and a scout came up to me and asked if I wanted to model. I was skeptical at first, because I was never the guy who thought about modelling. But I went to the agency to make my first impression and everyone was really nice and it was not like you see it on TV. In Germany we have Germany’s Next Top Model and you get a sense of modeling from that. I ended up doing some campaigns for Armani, so I was happy to do it.

Is that your favorite campaign, the Armani Exchange one?
Yeah, it gave me a chance to go to New York. It was a very good experience.

How was that experience?
Yeah, that was kind of my problem, because it was also my first shoot. But they called me back for a second time in May and I was really surprised. It went way better that time, because I gained more confidence.

If you had to give advice to other models in a similar situation, what would you say?
I don’t think it’s that easy to give the same advice to someone else because they might have a different experience. I can only speak out of my experience, but I would say cool down, don’t get too nervous and just focus on what they want from you. When you do it for the first time you don’t really know what they want from you, so listen to what they tell you. Before you go in, google past campaigns to understand what they want. Do a bit of homework. There is a reason why they want you there.

That’s wonderful advice. How else would you describe yourself as a person?
When you’re from a small town like me and you start modeling, everyone knows it. It was quite new for me, because everyone all of a sudden seemed to know me. They would also talk about me, and not always good things, because they don’t even know you. They make their own expression of you, thinking that you’re arrogant because you’re a model.

You said before that you are mixed ethnicity?
Yes, my mother is from Nigeria and my father is from Germany. I grew up in Germany.

What was it like growing up in Germany?
Growing up in a small town is quite a different experience because, for example, when I go to Hamburg and talk to girls they are very open and easy to start a conversation with. In a small town, they are more skeptical and introverted.

Coming from a small town, how are you adapting to traveling to big cities?
It’s a new experience for me, and it’s something I always wanted to do. My father was also traveling around a lot and it was a childhood dream to travel around, maybe make some money. I get to know the world and other people from other countries.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to so far?
I would say New York.

When are you at your happiest?
After traveling a lot for a year now, I feel a lot better at home. I miss the environment and all my friends. I also have a girlfriend at home. I miss the old times, like going out on the weekends and party.

Interview by Nancy Seline.
Words by Liz Ord.

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